1913, between peace and war
Chagall’s Homage to Apollinaire and the European avant-garde
in 1913: The year of French modernism
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This essay presents a panorama of the European avant-garde just before the break of the Great War and considers the network of the avant-garde in Europe, ridden with conflict and antagonism, almost as a pre-figuration of the war to come. Marked by the military metaphor of its denomination, the avant-garde evolves indeed at a time of continuous war, the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05, the Balkan wars in 1912-13, and the 1914-18 World War. Artistic exchanges map a world characterized by competition, emulation, and insults, conjointly with the strong impulse to create and promote universal and humanist art beyond national borders. Becker discusses this precarious balance of contrasting tendencies through the painting Homage to Apollinaire by Marc Chagall (1912) as a synthesis of the above dynamics.

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